The True Sea Monkey
The true sea monkey, Pan veritas, no to be confused with the commercially sold sea-monkey, Artemia NYOS, is a little-known representative of the chimp-family. Living on the coasts of western Africa, true sea monkeys (hereafter “sea monkeys”) have suffered from pollution and over-fishing, and their numbers have dwindled. Because of their cautious nature, humans seldom saw the sea monkeys. Although this protected the sea monkeys from hunters, it also left us unable to make any conservation efforts, and their situation worsened. Since their recent discovery by Prof. Seoseo of the Bamako Institute for the Study of Almost Extinct Species (BISAES), scientists from all over the world want to study the sea monkeys, and funding has been granted for their conservation by the WWF, the U.N., GreenPeace, the I.M.F., and local governments.
Although his cousins are vegetarians most of the time, the sea monkey eats a diet consisting mainly of fish and crustaceans. Another adaptation to his nautical habitat is the thickness of his fur. To prevent heat-loss, and reduce water resistance, sea monkeys have an extremely thick fur, similar to that found on sea lions. In addition, their hands and feet are webbed, allowing them to move freely in the water.
The sea monkeys seem to live in groups of ten to twenty individuals. One individual, presumed male, shows clear anatomical differences to the others, which identifies him as the leader. As is the case in other groups of primates. In other aspects as well, a group of sea monkeys tends to resemble that of other apes. There is grooming, as well as communal child care. And before going to sleep, they build a nest with algae and driftwood to sleep atop the waves.
After the sea monkeys were discovered, ethnologists working in the region made a connection between the animals and a local legend. The legends tells of a spirit of the sea, who is known to save or attack fishermen, depending on whether or not they behave with respect towards the sea. When comparing the prevalence of that legend against the presence of sea monkeys, the two charts see to match.
It is also believed that before being reduced to a few hundred individuals at the most, the sea monkeys occupied the whole west coast of Africa, and could very well be the origin of some of the folklore surrounding mermaids.